Sunday, October 05, 2008

Exploding Language, September 13 to October 18, 2008

Exploding Language:
Mining the Black Arts Movement
to create new visual text

September 13 to October 18, 2008
Penn Avenue and Plymouth
North Minneapolis

North Minneapolis, MN, September 1, 2008 – Bringing the spirit and power of the black arts movement back home to North Minneapolis is the goal of the current off-site project by Obsidian Arts. Bathing a four block stretch of Plymouth Avenue North, starting at Penn and Plymouth, in public art that focuses on the weight orientation of the visual aesthetics and purpose of artwork associated with the Black Arts Movement that swept though the U.S. during the late 1960’s and early 1970s. The exhibit consists of two and three-dimensional installations, projections and sound-scapes placed along Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis. Plymouth Avenue was the epicenter of the city’s black power and black arts movement activities in the late 1960’s and early 1970s.

The public exhibition kicks off with a community cookout and film showing on Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Penn Avenue North and Plymouth Avenue North in North Minneapolis. Participating artists will be present to talk about their work.


The Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s led to a profound cultural shift in the United States and throughout the African Diaspora. While the goals of the Black Arts Movement focused on creating art that reflected the aspirations of Black people, it also changed how people viewed basic notions of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, politics, and art. Long standing issues of ethnic art and its place in the mainstream art world finally had a forum.

Inherently political, the Black Arts Movement, often called the “aesthetic and spiritual sister” of the Black Power Movement, took place against the backdrop of the turbulent political and economic climate of the ‘60’s. Activism was the order of the day and the tandem movements that formed the core advocated for a “cultural revolution of ideas”.

This “revolution of ideas” created one of the most fertile environments for Black artists in the twentieth century. Amidst all the chaos there was an energetic vision of achievement, self actualized and fed by artistic disciplines diverse as the free jazz of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, the plays of Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal, the revolutionary literature of Franz Fanon, and the creativity of visual artists from all directions.

The intent of curators Ernest Bryant and Suzanne Roberts was to a create a revolution of ideas and provoke participating artists to create a new “visual text” for today’s black community based on a rigorous re-consideration of the literary and visual languages of the Black Arts Movement. We invited artists from across the country to engage in a dialog that interrogates the current or standard lexicon of black visual text, with the hope that they create a new language that accurately articulates the contemporary Black experience.

Artists and Curators

Charles Huntley Nelson (Atlanta), Christopher Aaron Deanes (Minneapolis), Christopher Harrison (Minneapolis), Estela De Paola De Lerma (St. Paul), Jessica Ann Peavy (New York), Kirk Washington (Minneapolis), Mica Lee Anders (St. Paul), Michael Paul Britto (New York), Seitu Jones (St. Paul), Torkwase Dyson (Boston), Tim Portlock (New York).

Obsidian Arts

Obsidian Arts participates in the global dialogue about artists and the art they create. Add. Enter 2948 Chicago Avenue, ste. 220.; Tel. 612-822-6808; Hrs. Thursday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 6:00 p.m. No admission fee.


The General Mills Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, The Minneapolis Empowerment Zone, The Buddy Taub Foundation, and The NorthSide Resident’s Redevelopment Council.

Special Thanks

Minneapolis Arts Commission, Mustard Seed, Mass Appeal Barbershop, N.R.R.C. Green Team, Peter Thompson, U of M Projection Project, Carl Pope, Juxtaposition Arts, Mary Altman and the City of Minneapolis, CartoGraphics, and Shalette Cauley Wandrick.

About Obsidian Art

Obsidian Arts supports the growth of ideas . . . valuing artists, curators, and art historians in the examination of Black history and culture. Obsidian Arts regularly develops exhibitions, art-history based educational programs and maintains a small black art history library and artists’ collective.

734 E. Lake Street, Ste. 220, Minneapolis, MN 55407 612-822-6808